Jill van OrdenJILL VAN ORDEN heads up Arts Reach Center here in Fort Collins.  It’s a fascinating concept, giving kids an outlet for creativity and inspiration.

This city has a fairly active arts scene, but most of that is targeted at adults.  Sure, most venues also have special kids’ shows.  But Arts Reach Center is different.

It’s targeted entirely at kids, and at their direct involvement in the performing arts.  Jill described it to me as giving children a rich learning experience, joyful expression and friendships, and development of their artistic abilities.

ARC kids 1Check out some of their recent shows:

  • Peter Pan
  • Little Red Hen
  • Check, Please!
  • Lollies

I find it impressive how Jill pulls in kids with a wide variety of interests and abilities to deliver quality productions that their parents and the larger community can be proud of.  Whether they contribute as a cast member, named role, or behind the scenes, they end up thrilled with their accomplishments.

Here’s a real life testimonial for her work:

“In an ideal world, Jill Van Orden would be cloned. The guidance and direction she demonstrates child after child, cast after cast, year after year, allows the children she works with to take center stage, and to feel the empowerment and confidence boost they so often desperately need, and deserve. Jill has that rare quality of being everyone’s mother and friend. She is the antithesis to the music teacher who tells us we can’t sing, or the acting coach who breaks down the actor in an attempt to build them back up. Children of all ages and all levels of talent leave a Jill Van Orden/Arts Reach Center Production encouraged and enchanted, many of whom will go forward and follow a path they may never have discovered otherwise.”

ARC kids 2There’s no question that Jill’s priorities are with the kids and their parents.  Her passion is to help them develop their skills and friendships in a fun and creative atmosphere.

There are alternatives, of course.  There’s the school productions which have only a limited number of roles, or the high end arts companies which require a great deal of commitment and expense.  Arts Reach Center fills a great spot between those two, with multiple productions each year to fit different levels of capability.

But of course the real competition is the many activities which tug on families’ time these days:  sports, music, homework, and so on.  So Jill’s focus at this point is capturing the imagination and enthusiasm of children, parents, and even teachers and church leaders.

Because this makes a lifelong contribution for our kids.